Sea Technology

SEP 2017

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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www.sea-technology.com September 2017 / st 33 T he need for improved control in ma- nipulations in subsea robotics is evi- dent. Legacy controllers are costly, prone to breakage and often difficult and awkward to use. Recent technological advancements in robotics are changing the way work is per- formed in almost every sector worldwide. Seattle-based software company BluHaptics quickly recognized an opportunity to mod- ernize control systems and robotic capa- bilities in offshore energy activities and, in 2016, set to work leveraging technologies from video games and surgical robotics to upgrade software for subsea manipulators and ROVs. To rapidly and effectively meet the mar- ket need, BluHaptics opted to use agile software development, a group of methodologies character- ized by collaboration, self-organi- zation and cross-functional teams. By prioritizing key "agile" values of team development, working soft- ware, customer collaboration and responding to change, BluHaptics was able to move in just 12 months from its initial concept to an indus- trial product poised to transform subsea robotics. This year, BluHap- tics will launch its first commercial product: DexOS, a modern control alternative that offers an intuitive user interface, dynamic 3D models for situational awareness, direct control of the jaw and assistive features that utilize mixed levels of auto- mation to make task execution more predictable. Initial Concept, Primary Build By using only positional data of joint angles, BluHap- tics realized it could build software to enable Cartesian control—allowing the pilot to focus on controlling the jaw while the software controls the remainder joints optimally with algorithms. BluHaptics knew this software had to be plug-and-play and cost- competitive for adoption. The company also had the know- how and skill set to incorpo- rate cutting-edge capabilities like parallel processing and machine learn- ing to deliver an unprecedented level of safety and efficiency in subsea operations. In the summer of 2016, BluHaptics be- gan to build the first version of DexOS. Partnering with global subsea tooling and services company J2 Subsea, two key sug- gestions were made during an interim test: First, the use of memory presets to easily move the arm to key positions (tool grab- bing, for example); and second, the deci- sion to adopt a video gamepad controller. These two insights turned out to be pivotal in the product's evolution. Gamepads are a familiar and intuitive mode for control—second nature and battle-tested among young people all over the planet. After months of development, the first version was ready to put in front of customers for feedback. Demonstrations of Mock Tasks The first demonstrations of a basic DexOS product took place in Aberdeen, Scotland, in January 2017. BluHaptics was able to show how positional memory could speed up Agile Development Of New Control Software DexOS Controller for Subsea Manipulators, ROVs By Don Pickering • Luke Wissmann (Top) BluHaptics' DexOS con- trol system supports safe and efficient intervention through its intuitive user interface and assistive automation features. (Bottom) BluHaptics' DexOS platform connected directly into simulators to allow cus- tomers to evaluate and provide feedback .

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